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A Barcoding solution is never just a piece of hardware: This is the heart of Barcoding’s Process, People, Technology (PPT) philosophy.

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Barcoding, Inc. is a premier partner with the best manufacturers and software providers in the automated data capture, mobility, and supply chain spaces. Because of our strong relationships, our clients have access to high-level resources at our partners’ organizations—from the executive teams to sales, engineers, and support.


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How RAIN RFID Helps Put the “Return” Back into Returnable Transport Items

Sep 28, 2023
TOPIC: Asset Tracking
3 min read
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Returnable transport items (RTIs)—think pallets, racks, kegs, and those trusty plastic crates—are unsung supply chain heroes. They carry, protect, organize, and standardize items in transport while simultaneously improving efficiency, sustainability, operational costs, and even the safe handling of products.

That is, unless your RTIs aren’t returned, or they’re misused and abused by supply chain partners. In that case, RTIs can become costly single-use containers. Ouch.

When visibility into these valuable assets goes dark, costs can spiral quickly. You can even find operations choked by the bottlenecks created when teams have to scramble for replacement containers and shipping items. Sometimes, even a hero needs a hero, and that’s where RAIN RFID location tracking can help unleash your RTIs’ true capabilities.

So gather ’round for our September Huddle, and let’s geek out on the potential of RAIN RFID, IoT, and RTIs to deliver major ROI by tracking those returnables and delivering data to inform your operations.

Joining me this month are a few of my favorite supply chain superheroes:

  • JW Franz, our own RAIN RFID #supplychaingeek and Barcoding Director of IoT
  • Dave Horvat, founder and CEO of Real Time Intelligence, whose supply chain visibility platform enables customers to shed light on virtually any item in motion
  • Sandy Murti, Vice President of Partner Development at Impinj, whose RAIN RFID solutions extend connectivity from physical objects to edge devices to the cloud

Ready for some enlightening takeaways? Watch the Huddle to learn how RAIN RFID can help you make those sneaky returnables stand to attention.

No One Can Afford a Game of RTI Hide-and-Seek

Misplacing one five-dollar crate might not sound like a big deal, but when those crates circulate in the thousands (or hundreds of thousands or even more), the losses can add up fast. In fact, David dropped a truth bomb at the kickoff of our conversation with the story of a baker losing track of  25–30% of their plastic bakery trays annually.

Replacing 25–30% of their trays each year is certainly a lot of dough (had to!), but cost is only part of the problem. Reusables are meant to be reused; they’re purchased with an intended lifecycle, and with multiple benefits in mind, including sustainability and efficiency. Disrupting RTI circulation costs much more than the replacement value of the items.

How much more? David shared another story, this one about a tier-one automotive supplier using $1500 steel racks in its manufacturing process. At that cost, you can bet the number of racks is limited and their efficient use is vital. When racks go missing, the product can’t ship. In this case, missing RTIs can halt production for a major automotive manufacturer. And no one wants to be that supplier.

Sandy pointed out that sustainability is increasingly driving the use of RTIs—so the business value of returnables isn’t limited to cost and efficiency. Using RTIs can be transformational to an organization’s carbon footprint, enabling reductions in single-use materials in all kinds of processes and places.

But to contribute to sustainability improvements, RTIs simply must be properly tracked, circulated, and reused. David pointed out Real Time Intelligence’s brag-worthy stat: trimming rental RTI cycles from a leisurely 100 days to a brisk seven. Now that's eco-efficiency!

More Visibility = Less RTI Waste

Many RTIs have RFID tags embedded in the manufacturing process; some custom RTIs need to be tagged or labeled before they go into circulation. But either way, RFID enables the assignment of unique digital IDs to every crate, pallet, tote, bin, keg, or rack.

Pair RFID-enabled RTIs with strategically mounted and/or handheld readers and a data solution, and voilà! You’ve got an instant, real-time, bird’s-eye view of every one of your RTIs’ journey through your partner ecosystem. No more leaving it up to employees to locate, track, and count transport items. 

RFID readers in strategic locations can gather more than just RTI status data. And with a solution like Real Time Intelligence’s platform, you can harness this tidal wave of data and use machine learning to find out which of your supply chain partners are kind to your transport items, and who’s less respectful of these vital shared resources.

But there’s even more to learn by tracking your RTIs’ circulation. You’ll get insights into shipping routes, operational efficiencies you can improve on, shift performance differentials, and much more.

RAIN RFID: Looks Like Magic, Works Like Technology

JW explained how getting started can be incredibly straightforward. Start by giving every individual asset a digital name tag, whether using RAIN RFID or scannable barcode labels. But using RFID definitely makes it easier to fix readers at crucial checkpoints and start tracking RTIs’ movements. 

Working with integration experts like the teams at Barcoding ensures your RTI and RFID system is made up of the right components and designed to capture and store the data, and automatically analyze and deliver the insights you need most. With expert guidance, you’ll know you’re investing in the right technology to meet your goals today and set up your operations for continued long-term improvements.

How do those improvements translate into a profitability boost? Find out when you download our free infographic. It doesn’t just tell you, it shows you where and how RAIN RFID supports granular, in-depth visibility into your distribution operations.

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